What’s happening with RSMB?

Some people will be aware that I wrote a small MQTT broker in about 2008, made available on IBM’s alphaWorks website. It was called RSMB (Really Small Message Broker) when released, because the name we used first for it, Nanobroker, was already taken. Somewhat amusingly, an IBM website for RSMB still exists.

A year or two later, Roger Light asked Andy Stanford-Clark why RSMB wasn’t open source (not my decision), so Andy suggested Roger write his own. And that’s how Mosquitto started, as a drop in replacement for RSMB. When MQTT software was being contributed to the Eclipse foundation, IBM contributed a Java client and my C client to the Paho project, and Mosquitto was contributed as the broker. IBM did contribute the RSMB source to the Mosquitto project on my encouragement, to serve as a repository of potentially useful code, and because it had support for MQTT-SN.

So in my mind, Mosquitto became the official replacement for RSMB, and I expected RSMB to outlive its usefulness pretty quickly. As it happens, MQTT-SN support in Mosquitto has been on the back burner ever since, because Roger wanted to rebase the internals of Mosquitto on an event library before tackling it. Unfortunately, this ran into a number of issues, social and technical. I’m still hoping that it will happen.

But one of the alternative approaches to MQTT-SN support is now available in Paho (written by Tomoaki Yamaguchi) – a transparent gateway which converts MQTT-SN into MQTT. Transparent because it creates a new MQTT connection for each MQTT-SN client, so that the MQTT broker has visibility of those clients. RSMB acts as an aggregating gateway, where one MQTT bridge connection carries the traffic for all MQTT-SN clients, and the MQTT broker sees only one.

I do wonder if an MQTT-SN to MQTT gateway will in fact be a better solution because it may allow easier support of additional underlying transports. The gateway has UDP and XBee right now, others such as BLE and even serial could be useful.

Mosquitto in the meantime has added further capabilities such as TLS and WebSocket support, and many more. If there were a niche that Mosquitto has left open then I would be happy to support RSMB in that, but I don’t think there is. The combination of Mosquitto and the Paho transparent gateway will do a better job all round.

Use of Gotos in C code (in RSMB)

I saw that John Donovan criticised my use of gotos in the Really Small Message Broker (RSMB) C code a little while back in his article MQTT and the language of the Internet of Things.

To quote:

And, despite some missing features, a crash bug (for which I have posted a fix), and a scary number of goto statements (i.e. more than 0), it does the job admirably.

The crash bug was due to an unimplemented feature of MQTT-SN, but let’s get onto the use of gotos.  The RSMB code is written in C, not C++.  I made that decision in 2008 when I started to implement RSMB in C++.  I thought I would use all the features of C++ to build a nicely object oriented architecture, while making the code as efficient and small as it could be.  That approach lasted all of a few hours, as I  discovered that template support in the version of gcc I had to hand was decidedly dodgy.

Nothing for it, I had to resort to standard, portable C.  On the bright side, that meant I didn’t have to contend with huge standard libraries being included in the executable.  On the down side (and this is a big downside) I had to obtain or write my own collection libraries.

As RSMB became part of WebSphere MQ for a while, under the name of Telemetry Daemon for Devices, I was required to add some features to aid bug fixing.  One of these is a stack trace (the pros and cons of that belong in a different post).  What that meant is that each function had to end with a macro:


In those functions where some code inside a nested loop or two found an error and needed to leave the function, I had two potential approaches (apart from restructuring the loops):

  1. have multiple returns from the function, with multiple FUNC_EXIT macros, or
  2. use a goto to the single exit point of the function.

I chose the latter, as it meant only one FUNC_EXIT call was needed, meaning less scope for forgetting to include it before any return statement. This means that each function only has one exit point, which some people prefer in any case.

The use of goto is therefore constrained to the following pattern:

int function(int parm)
   goto exit;  /* an error condition */
   goto exit;  /* another error condition */


It struck me recently, rather belatedly, that this is what exceptions are. So if you dislike my use of gotos, please consider them to be exceptions instead.

With the right sort of macros, maybe I could even make them look like exceptions

#define raise(label) goto label;

#define handle(label) label:

but I think that would be wilfully obscure 🙂

Getting started with MQTT-SN in RSMB

Now that the source for RSMB with MQTT-SN is available, here is the quickest of quick starts to get going with MQTT-SN. More to come in due course.

The source is at http://git.eclipse.org/c/mosquitto/org.eclipse.mosquitto.rsmb.git/
in the rsmb directory. To build, go into rsmb/src and call “make”. That works well for Linux. You need a make from cygwin or similar to build for Windows.

This is an example configuration file for RSMB with MQTT-SN:

# will show you packets being sent and received
trace_output protocol						

# normal MQTT listener
listener 1883 INADDR_ANY	
# MQTT-S listener
listener 1884 INADDR_ANY mqtts					
	# optional multicast groups to listen on
	# optional advertise packets parameters: address, interval, gateway_id			
	advertise 30 33			

# MQTT-S outgoing multicast bridge (QoS -1)
connection mqtts_multicast						
	protocol mqtts_multicast  
	# only one address is used at the moment, plan is that a list can be used
	topic a out
	topic abcdef out

# QoS 2 MQTT-S bridge
connection mqtts							
	protocol mqtts
	topic a out

At the moment predefined topics and sleeping clients aren’t implemented.

There is a Python MQTT-SN client in rsmb/src/MQTTSClient/Python – see mqtts.py, in the main section, for an example of using it.